FTR reports preliminary North American Class 8 net orders for May remained subdued at 6,600 units. While up 61% from the dismal April activity, the May orders were down 37% y/y. Class 8 net orders for the last twelve months total 155,000 units.
Fleets remain reluctant to order trucks, as states extended restrictions due to COVID-19, creating additional economic turmoil. Orders are expected to continue to increase modestly, as economic activity resumes after many of the constraints are lifted. Freight volumes have picked up some after bottoming out in Mid-April. The recovery is expected to be slow and uneven. It has not started quite yet based on the weak Class 8 orders in May. June should be a better indicator, as more economic activity resumes.
Don Ake, vice president commercial vehicles, commented, “Most of the country still had some severe restraints in place for part of May. It is difficult for fleets to plan for future equipment needs under these highly abnormal conditions. Carriers are more worried about what’s happening today, about their manpower needs and short-term issues, than ordering trucks. The concern about the pandemic goes beyond just the business and economic anxieties and greatly diminishes fleet confidence.
“The economy has entered the restart phase and May was the transition month to get us from shutdown to renewal. Expect Class 8 orders to rise gradually, as caution wanes and fleet buyers begin to focus on the second half of the year and equipment requirements.”
Final data for May will be available from FTR later in the month as part of its North American Commercial Truck & Trailer Outlook service.